Real Estate Weekly
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Historic preservation wonʼt save affordable housing

By John Banks, president, REBNY

In response to REBNY’s previous reports detailing the relationship between landmarking and New York City’s housing production, some preservationists have asserted that historic districts play a critical role in preserving our city’s rent-regulated housing. They believe that it is an important way to maintain affordable housing.

Using data recently assembled and made publicly available that shows changes in the number of rent regulated units between 2007 and 2014, REBNY analyzed this data, comparing the changes in the rent regulation inventory inside and outside of the historic districts, to see if it would substantiate preservationists’ assertions of the beneficial impacts of historic district designation.

The results of our research indicates that historic preservation does not ensure the preservation of affordable housing.
Rather, our report shows that the decline in the number of rent regulated apartments located in New York City’s historic districts was four times greater than in non-landmarked parts of the city.

The Upper West Side of Manahattan is heavily landmarked.
The Upper West Side of Manahattan is heavily landmarked.

Between 2007 and 2014, landmarked properties in Manhattan showed a 24.5 percent decrease in the number of rent-stabilized units, compared to 11.5 percent on non-landmarked properties over the same period.

Greenwich Village and Upper West Side/Central Park West, two well-known historic districts, had the highest net loss of rent stabilized units in the city, losing a combined 30 percent of their affordable units during that period.

The numbers in Brooklyn were even more drastic — on non-landmarked properties, there was only a 3.4 percent decline in the number of rent-stabilized units, while on landmarked properties the number went down a shocking 27.1 percent. Brooklyn Heights alone lost 35.6 percent of its rent-stabilized units, while Park Slope lost 40 percent.

As a city, rent-stabilized units decreased by 22.5 percent on landmarked as opposed to 4.75 percent on non-landmarked properties.

Ultimately, affordable housing remains one of our city’s most pressing needs, and these numbers do not show any evidence that landmarking helps to preserve it.

The numbers do, however, refute the notion that historic districts are a good means of preserving existing affordable housing.

In other REBNY News:
The submission deadline for the 27 Annual Residential Deal of the Year Gala is September 18 and 5:01 p.m. This year’s Gala’s theme is “The Magic of New York,” and features a Grand Prize of a Magical Sunday in New York for Two. This prize includes brunch at the Rainbow Room, limousine service, theatre tickets, and dinner at Sardi’s. Other great prizes will also be presented at this year’s Gala, which takes place on Wednesday, September 28. For information on how to enter, visit or contact Jeanne Oliver-Taylor at

You have until September 18 to make purchases for the Summer Donation Drive on-line at Babies R Us. This can be done on-line using Registry # 57117132 or calling (212) 871-3394 and speaking to a Personal Shopper mentioning REBNY Organization. We thank you for your continued support of the Summer Donation Drive.

October 8 is REBNY’s next “Secrets of Top Brokers and Industry Leaders” seminar. Join us in the Mendik Education Center from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. to hear our panel of real estate experts examine and present current trends in real estate to enhance the professional knowledge of each attending agent. Registration is required, and more information can be found on, or by contacting Yesenia Dhanraj at


October 13 is the Residential Division’s next Breakfast Club Seminar in the Mendik Education Center. These seminars are an informative, interactive, and free way for participants to spend 90 minutes with dynamic residential colleagues who are known for a particular expertise. Registration is required. To find out more, visit or contact Yesenia Dhanraj at

REBNY’s New Member seminar, “Keys to Commercial Real Estate,” will take place on October 19h from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Mendik Education Center. Moderated by James Nelson, Vice Chair at Cushman & Wakefield, the panel includes Randy Modell, William Montana, and Joanne Podell, who will welcome our new members in a free seminar for REBNY members only. To register, please login to

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